One of the most common questions new moms have is how they can workout while breastfeeding safely and easily. Here are a few tips I've learned through my experience nursing two babies and living an active lifestyle.
1. Find an awesome bra.
Nursing moms often need larger bras than they are used to wearing, and great support is essential to comfort. Local running stores (like On The Run in our area) are a great place to try lots of different bras. Make sure when you are trying sports bras on that you go through the motions you plan on doing during workouts. Jumping jacks, running, and pushups are a few I always try. My personal favorite bra for nursing is the Fiona bra by Moving Comfort. I love it because the straps have velcro so I get enough support during my workout and I can easily undo the velcro to provide easy access to my baby.
2. Stay Hydrated.
Water is incredibly important to keep your body working well and to producing milk. If you notice that your baby still seems hungry, or if you are suddenly pumping less milk, water is an excellent place to start looking for a solution. Most people don't drink enough water on a daily basis. Athletes and nursing moms both need more water than the typical person, so if you are a nursing athlete you need to commit yourself to drinking even more water than that.
3. Clean Up
Some babies don't like to nurse immediately after exercise. If I am working out right before a nursing session, I make sure I bring a baby wipe to wipe my breast off. I just wipe and let it dry before nursing. However, my second baby doesn't seem to mind and will happily nurse any time under any circumstances.
4. Keep your diet in check.
If you are exercising to lose weight, the temptation to drastically cut calories sometimes presents itself. While eating healthy foods is always a great idea, eating too few calories can have negative effects on your ability to nourish your baby. As with water, keep an eye on your pumping output or your baby's ability to nurse to satisfaction. Along with increasing your water intake, increasing your calorie intake may be necessary to cope with the increased caloric need of your exercising body and the baby's caloric needs at the same time.
5. Find a routine that works for you
With so many exercise options, there are lots of ways to get fit in an environment that supports your life as a nursing mom. Taking the baby with you on a run or bike ride where you can stop if you need is a great option. My favorite, of course, is Stroller Strides. I usually nurse right after class but when my daughter was very young, I sometimes stopped in the middle of class to feed her. The instructors and other moms were great and I never worried about being judged or getting left. I simply rejoined class when we finished.